Sunday, 10 January 2010

Cosmological Argument

St. Thomas Aquinas expressed an a-posteriori Cosmological argument in 3 of his five ways: (a) The unmoved mover (b) The uncaused causer and (c) Possibility and Necessity. Later, Frank Copleston developed this argument in radio debate with Bertrand Russell. Hume also added several criticisms to the argument later.

So what was Aquinas' first way? 
The unmoved mover
  1. Everything in the world seems to be moving.
  2. Motion in an object is caused by an external force for example a car will only move if petrol is added.
  3. Furthermore, he said that every object has a potential form and an actual form e.g. a log has a potential of being a heat giver but actually it is just a log. It takes something to cause it to change into its potential form i.e. it takes a human to set it alight for it be heat giver.
  4. Aquinas rejected that these causes could go back to infinity.
  5. He said there must be something external which causes motion which it self is unmoved.
  6. This he said is the Prime Mover or the unmoved mover which we know as God.
What about the second way?
The uncaused causer- This is similar to the first way but it explores cause rather than motion.
  1. He looked at everything in world and said nothing comes about by itself. For example, my computer didn't come about by itself it required somebody to get all the bits and put it together.
  2. Again, Aquinas rejected this chain of causes could go back to infinity.
  3. He said there must of been something external which itself was uncaused.
  4. This is caused the uncaused causer which we know as God.
And the third way?
Possibility and necessity...
  1. This argument revolves around two 'assumptions' as such: (i) time is infinite and (ii) all things in this world are contingent i.e. one day these things will cease to exist.
  2. Therefore, there must have been a time when nothing was around [where all contingent things ceased to exist].
  3. Since nothing can come from nothing; there must have been a necessary being which explains why contingent things came into existence.
  4. This cause is what we know to be God.
Radio Debate Frank Copleston and Bertrand Russell
  • Copleston developed the Cosmological argument. He said that individual things on Earth do not themselves have a reason or a cause. He says reality is a compilation of these unexplained objects. Therefore, the explanation of the world must lie outside and it must be its own sufficient reason.
  • Russell responded to this saying just because individual parts of the universe require an explanation does not mean the universe itself does too. The universe has to be accepted as a brute fact. He gave a metaphor for this - he said just because individual humans have a mother it does not mean there is one mother for the whole human race.
  • To this Copleston famously replied "one cannot be checkmated if one refuses to sit at the chessboard."
David Hume's Criticisms:
  1. You can deny the argument of possibility and necessity without contradicting oneself because you can reject the concept of a necessary being all together.
  2. If the universe requires a cause then why doesn't God?
  3. Also, isn't of funny how the argument starts off with the idea of universal causation and ends up with something which is uncaused.

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